“The decision by the minister for social development was, in my opinion, absolutely correct..”

In the Assembly today, in response to a question from Alliance Party Leader David Ford “demanding a commitment from the entire power-sharing executive that it would end the funding which was linked to UDA disarmament”, NI Deputy First Minister, Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness, clarified both his position and that of the Executive

The Mid Ulster MP told Mr Ford: “I think this is an issue that has been marked more by fiction than fact. Let me be absolutely clear. I – and I believe I also speak for everyone in the Executive – am totally and absolutely opposed to any funding whatsoever going to the UDA, whether they decommission their weapons or not. The funding introduced by (former Northern Ireland Secretary) Peter Hain was irregular. It was wrong and it should never have happened. The decision by the minister for social development was, in my opinion, absolutely correct.”

And Mark Devenport notes events in the Committee

Also this afternoon Gregory Campbell summoned Margaret Ritchie to the Social Development Committee to answer questions about axing funding to a UDA linked project. But if it sounded like a Kangaroo court in advance, the Committee turned into a “kiss and make up” session, with both politicians sounding like they wanted to move on when they spoke to us after the meeting. Perhaps the SDLP minister’s critics are beginning to realise there are diminishing returns for them in prolonging this row.